Pawtucket, a small city in Rhode Island, has been recently focusing economic development efforts on converting its historic mills into live-work spaces for artists and small creative businesses as well as traditional apartments and condos. For me, viewing artists as economic engines is what sets Pawtucket's approach apart from other cities.

The rebirth of the old industrial northeast cities (see: Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland) has been emerging for the last 3-4 years yet economic investment is often centred around major investments in bio-medical industries or large-scale sports and civic infrastructure respectively. What makes Pawtucket interesting is the focus on artists/creative sector and, in particular, treating artists as small businesses. This approach, in my estimation, justly recognises artists as economic producers that need financial subsidy or support in the same way that other small businesses and industries are supported.

This is an encouraging study for cities in the UK, such as Hull, Leeds, or Belfast, looking to regenerate depressed neighbourhoods. I believe Pawtucket's experience suggests that viewing and investing in artists in the way you would the tech or manufacturing sector can encourage economic growth and inward investment. And as someone who strongly believes in the need for supporting UK artists amidst rising costs of living, I think it's a great win-win for culture and cities.